Navigation Links
Health Officials Urge Americans: Get Your Flu Shot Now
Date:12/5/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials used Monday, the start of National Influenza Vaccination Week, to urge Americans to get their flu shot before the season begins in earnest.

Since the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, vaccination rates have increased for some people, especially pregnant women and children -- the two groups hit hardest hit by the pandemic. Right now, vaccine supplies are ample, but they could start to dwindle over the next few weeks, so officials are hoping more people will get their shot before Christmas.

"Flu vaccination is the essence of prevention, and prevention is the essence of public health," Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said during a midday news conference.

The H1N1 flu outbreak led to a greater awareness of flu and the importance of vaccination, Koh noted. However, awareness and action are two different matters, he stressed.

"Flu remains a serious and unpredictable disease," Koh said. "Each year in the U.S. an estimated 5 to 20 percent of the population may be infected and more than 200,000 may be hospitalized during the flu season."

A flu shot is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older, Koh said. The vaccine is particularly important for those at the highest risk of complications from the flu, including young children, pregnant women, seniors and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart or lung disease, he said.

"More than 130 million Americans have at least one chronic condition," he said, adding that serious complications from the flu can include dehydration, pneumonia and death.

Health care workers especially need to get vaccinated to protect their patients, their families and themselves, Koh said.

Before the H1N1 flu pandemic, only about 15 percent of pregnant women got a flu shot. "Last season, almost half of pregnant women were vaccinated," Koh said. "Also, last year about half of our nation's children were vaccinated, and we saw no racial/ethnic disparities in vaccination coverage among minority children."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a survey last month to gauge how many people were getting vaccinated. For health care workers, the rate was 63 percent, a 7 percent increase over this time last year, Koh said.

Flu activity so far has been light, officials said, but that could change quickly, given the unpredictable nature of the disease.

"We are seeing only a little flu across the country right now, but that doesn't mean it isn't right around the corner," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said during the news conference.

Thirty states have already reported cases of flu, she said, but flu season typically peaks in January and February. That's why it's a good time to get vaccinated now, before the flu season kicks into high gear, she added.

As of the first week in November, the CDC estimated that 36 percent of people 6 months of age and older had gotten a flu shot, Schuchat said. That's about 111 million people -- about 3.5 percent higher than last year, she said.

Although the number of adults who were vaccinated in November was about the same as last year, more children were vaccinated this year, Schuchat said. An estimated 62 percent of people aged 65 and older had been vaccinated as well, she added.

But, among those with chronic conditions, only 42 percent had been vaccinated by early November, Schuchat said. "That's very close to what we had seen last year," she noted.

Schuchat thinks many more people have been vaccinated since the survey, and others will get vaccinated as the season progresses. This year's vaccine is the same as last year's and seems to be a good match for the flu strains that are circulating so far, she said.

However, that doesn't mean that last year's shot will still protect you, Schuchat said. To be safe, she recommends getting vaccinated again this year.

Schuchat cautioned that vaccine supplies could start to run low. So far, 129 million doses of vaccine have been distributed, which she called a typical amount.

"We believe supplies are still ample around the country, but we really don't know how long that's going to last," she said. "We hope people will be able to find flu vaccine easily in the weeks ahead, but we hope you can act soon. The supply of flu vaccine this time of the year is pretty much fixed [by the manufacturers], and vaccine will likely become harder to find and get."

More information

For more on flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Dec. 5, 2011, teleconference with Howard Koh, M.D., assistant secretary for health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Anne Schuchat, M.D., director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Socioeconomic Status Main Predictor of Health Habits: Study
2. Circle of Friends Key to Adopting Healthy Habits: Study
3. Younger Americans Face Greater Health Disparities: Study
4. Health gap has grown among young US adults, study finds
5. Food served in childrens hospitals rated largely unhealthy
6. New report: Community health plans improving care for patients with chronic illnesses
7. Study finds inadequate mask use among health care workers early in 2009 H1N1 outbreak
8. 2 million Californians report mental health needs; most receive little or no treatment
9. Health-care providers should be alert to risk of suicide among pregnant women and new mothers
10. Medication Review May Benefit Home Health Care Patients
11. Caregivers at risk for health problems
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... Belle, were recently denied entry to the JFK Virgin Atlantic lounge. , Bensko ... into a wheelchair six years ago, Bensko dedicated her life to supporting our wounded ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Georgia State University ... to 20. , The two-day conference is focused on advancing scientific knowledge about ... patients’ lives and eliminating racial breast cancer-related disparities. The conference theme is “Illuminating ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... ... American Farmer, will feature Chr. Hansen, Inc (CHR Hansen) in an upcoming ... American Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. Check your local listings for more ... in 1874 after a groundbreaking discovery of how to industrialize enzymes. Rooted in science ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Radabaugh & Associates, a locally ... business owners in North Central West Virginia, is embarking on a cooperative charity ... residents in the region. , The Stepping Stones organization offers a series of ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... San Marcos, California (PRWEB) , ... June 22, 2017 , ... ... to help spread the word about their high performance silicon wedding bands and all-purpose ... Groove Rings are the active, silicone rings designed just for you. , From the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/16/2017)... , June 16, 2017 Datascope Corp. is voluntarily ... Datascope Corp. for a potential electrical test failure code.     ... PART NUMBER ... IABP CS300 IABP ... ...
(Date:6/14/2017)... , June 14, 2017  In 2016, Embodied ... Startups pitch competition and came away with $25,000 ... is described by Forbes as "entering the life of ... Association as teaching "empathy to medical professionals in an ... was recently named a finalist for the Department of ...
(Date:6/10/2017)... June 9, 2017  Shane K. Burchfield, DPM, is recognized by ... as a Podiatrist in Alabama . ... First Foot Care. He brings over 20 years of experience, as ... and healthcare, to his role. ... PC is pleased to welcome you to his practice," ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: